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Under2 Coalition shapes the European Climate Pact

28 May 2020, 15:27 UTC 4 min read

Launched in December 2019 by the European Commission, the European Green Deal aims to transform the EU to a climate neutral continent by 2050, generating a new economic and societal system that will benefit citizens by creating jobs, improving air quality and establishing affordable energy and clean mobility solutions. 

This year, the Commission also introduced the European Climate Law which proposes a legally binding target of net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. Shifting the economy to become more resilient, sustainable and climate-neutral also requires engagement with all European stakeholders when designing new climate actions. The European Commission proposed to launch a European Climate Pact to fill this gap, building on its citizens’ dialogue approach. The Pact aims to provide citizens, national, regional and local authorities, civil society and industry a space for collaboration and discussion, so that European institutions can work together towards a trajectory of net-zero emissions.

The Commission is now collecting input from stakeholders to help shape the initiative further. The Under2 Coalition Secretariat worked closely with its European members to provide feedback and suggestions to the Commission. In the response, which was submitted this week, European Under2 Coalition regions expressed their support for its mission, offered more collaboration and proposed to build on the success of existing climate initiatives. 

Improving coordination and cooperation

The Pact aims to instil a new climate culture in which civil society, industry and governments at all levels are brought together to increase public participation and inspire further climate action. 
Under2 Coalition governments have committed to keeping global temperature rises to well below 2°C with efforts to reach 1.5°C and have pledged to work together on policy action, transparency and climate pathways. They have suggested that the Pact builds on these existing pledges and develops a community of ambassadors who champion change by boosting climate policy coherence, coordination and cooperation.

In the feedback, many of the coalition’s 43 European member regions expressed interest in taking part in the future activities of the Pact, such as awareness raising and sharing their policy implementation experiences with those involved. Representing a population of 179 million and a GDP of $6.8 trillion, (35% and 36% of the EU respectively), these regions would benefit from efforts to mainstream climate action in all economic sectors while at the same time building on the climate commitments they have already made as part of the Under2 Coalition.

“The Under2 Coalition, now in its fifth year of existence, has become a strong voice of subnational governments in Europe.

"We want to support and actively shape EU climate policies and initiatives to further local and regional interests on the European level. Therefore, we think it is important to share our experiences and to express our vision for a greener future in the public consultation on the European Climate Pact.” 

Franz Untersteller, Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector of Baden-Württemberg, and European Co-Chair of the Under2 Coalition

Better monitoring of emissions reduction progress

The Under2 Coalition suggested that the Pact use existing monitoring and reporting systems such as The Climate Group and CDP’s Global States and Regions Annual Disclosure to encourage more substantial monitoring of progress towards targets. The Annual Disclosure process allows regional governments to disclose their climate action, targets and progress, making them better informed to develop or improve their reduction strategies.

European regions disclosing climate data to The Climate Group and CDP have, on average, reduced their emissions by 23% since their respective base years. Notably, Thuringia saw a 61% decrease from 1990 to 2016 and Lower Austria a 48% decrease from 2005 to 2017, while nine regions have set a 100% renewable energy target.

Focus on energy efficiency in buildings and mobility

Energy efficiency in buildings and low-carbon mobility are considered priority areas for Under2 Coalition members on which the Pact could offer targeted support, such as awareness-raising or access to funding. According to Annual Disclosure data from 2019, European regions have taken a total of 228 actions to improve their energy efficiency measures, from expanding LED lighting, promoting building energy performance rating and installing smart meters, to reducing operating emissions of government-owned buildings. 

European members have increased the number of dedicated regional policies on energy efficiency over time and are eager to share the knowledge they have gained with other players under the Pact. While the EU has already started to modernize and transform its economy, current policies will only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050. Much remains to be done, and the Under2 Coalition believes that the European Climate Pact can provide the appropriate spaces for cities, regional governments and industry to collaborate and to serve as multipliers.

A new climate story for European citizens

2020 marks the fifth anniversary of the Under2 Coalition and is also the year where countries are expected to increase their ambition under the Paris Agreement. 

The Pact is open to public consultation until the 17th June 2020. The Commission will review the feedback received and aims to launch its final version of the Pact by the end of the year. 

The European Climate Pact is an opportunity for the European community of regions, cities and companies to coordinate action, share solutions to drastically reduce emissions and help citizens to achieve climate-neutrality. The Under2 Coalition’s regions will play their part to support this process.